St. Lucia, Aug 10 : Expressing satisfaction over his side's performance on a challenging first day, India batting coach Sanjay Bangar has praised Ravichandran Ashwin for making another vital lower-order contribution to restore parity in the third Test match against the West Indies at Gros Islet.
Put in to bat first, the Indian batsmen failed to apply themselves against the West Indies bowlers, who used the conditions efficiently to leave the tourists reeling at 126 for five in testing conditions at Darren Sammy National Cricket Stadium.
Ashwin, who scored a superb century in Antigua, once again came to rescue as he stitched an unbeaten 108-run partnership with wicketkeeper-batsman Wriddhiman Saha (46 not out) for the sixth wicket to help the tourists end the day's play at 234 for five.
"It is brilliant, it is just his third innings at No. 6 and he has never batted at six before the start of this series. So that's an added plus for the team," Bangar said of Ashwin, who remained unbeaten on 75. "Somebody we knew had a great potential with the bat but never did so at six, and having the knowledge that he is someone who started off as a top order batsman at the start of his career and contributed immensely for his state team as well.
So it gives us options and already if you see the type of contribution the lower order is making it puts us in a confidence position whenever the team finds itself in a tight corner," the batting coach added.
Bangar also pointed out that in addition to his batsmen's struggles on the opening day, the tourists troubles were compounded due to a slow outfield.
"Batting on the first day of the Test match is quite challenging, especially the first session. And we got to 87 in the first session and we would have ideally wanted to lose one wicket less but we thought that we handled the first session pretty well.
Second session, yes definitely we would have liked to have a few more runs. We sort of couldn't come out with enough solutions for the lines that the offspinner (Roston Chase) was bowling.
He was bowling a defensive line taking six fielders on the onside and also the ball getting softer and the state of the outfield.
All these factors need to be looked into but at the end of it I thought it was a hard fought day one of Test match.
And to come out of it and be in the position we are in I am satisfied with the way the batsmen applied themselves," he observed.
After losing Shikhar Dhawan (1) and captain Virat Kohli (3) early, KL Rahul, who retained his place following his century knock in the drawn second Test in Jamaica, steadied the innings with Ajinkya Rahane by making 58-run stand for the third wicket.
However, Rahul got dismissed for 50 before lunch while trying to whip a shortish delivery from Chase, who then removed Rahane (35) minutes before tea.
For West Indies, debutant Alzarri Joseph and Chase bagged two wickets each while fast bowler Shannon Gabriel claimed one wicket.
India are currently leading the four-match series 1-0 and will go to top of the ICC Test rankings if they win the two remaining games.